Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shut-up Stupid Sunday: Is greed good?

The core belief of Conservatives can be summed up by Gordon Gekko's speech in Wall St.:

The point is, ladies and gentleman, that greed, for lack of a better word, is good. Greed is right, greed works. Greed clarifies, cuts through, and captures the essence of the evolutionary spirit. Greed, in all of its forms; greed for life, for money, for love, knowledge has marked the upward surge of mankind. And greed, you mark my words, will not only save Teldar Paper, but that other malfunctioning corporation called the USA.

It's a mantra that is repeated over and over as a solution to every problem, that the greed of the “Widows and Idiot sons” of people who made money will fix what ever, because they want more. The greed for more money will solve other problems somehow.

Gekko's speech was focused at the shareholders of Teldar Paper, in the narrowest interpretation of that speech it would imply that “Greed” would make more money for the shareholders. So let's look at the real world and see if “Greed” makes shareholders money.

Of the top three companies as far as Market Capitalization, two are oil companies. Exxon Mobile and PetroChina. From experience as the Vice-President of an oil company I know the oil game is all based on luck. In the case of those two they are subsidized by the two largest governments in the world so the rules are in their favor. But it is still based on luck.

The third company in the top of Market Capitalization is Apple. How did Steve Jobs explain Apple's success:

"[We want to] get new products out there and have new ways to buy them. I think if we manage the top line, the bottom line will follow. I don't know what the future will bring, but we're working as fast as we can,"

That is the opposite of running a company by greed. Instead of focusing on making more money Apple focuses on making better products. Smaller, faster and easier to use. By putting their energy into making a better world they have in turn beaten the companies that are ruled by “Greed” at their own game.

If greed and the lust for money, can't beat the vision of making a better world in making money, how can it beat it in making a better world.

The idea that the lust for money money will lead to a better world is backwards. The desire for a better world and the commitment to see it through will lead to making more money.

So to all the people who say greed is good, I say, “Shut-up Stupid, the world isn't a zero-sum game. Making money isn't always about beating someone else. If you look at your top line, how your business helps people, what you want your business to do in the world, and you focus on achieving that, money will follow. Wanting more money isn't going to make a better world, but wanting a better world will make more money.”

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE


Stephanie Barr said...

That mantra "Greed is good" has always been pure and unadulterated BS. If people hadn't banded together to face the hardships of the wild, back when there was no "civilization" we wouldn't have lasted as long as the dodo.

Project Savior said...

That "Greed is good" doesn't work is obvious to anyone who doesn't do mental gymnastics and alter reality to make their point. But the fact that it doesn't even work in the stock market, which uses money as a yardstick is telling.
It's like a sports coach wanting the entire school to be taught by his methods because, "It helps not only in sports, but life." If that coach has a 0-9 record it really undermines his argument.

Stephanie Barr said...

That's because it violates the basic premise behind commerce in the first place.

Long term success in business comes from BOTH sides feeling like a winner. If people feel like they're cheated, they won't be back unless you're the only game in town.

No one's the only game in town any more.